It’s amazing how hard it is for this mother to find some quiet writing time! I’ve had about 4 or 5 posts swimming around my brain for the last week and a half but no real opportunities to write! FINALLY, here I am on the eve of National Running Day – post night run, kids in bed, hubs at the gym – ready to recap and celebrate my first Half Marathon!
Before I begin, I’ll start by saying that if you are a rockstar runner who thinks 13.1 miles is no big deal and are laughing at my excitement or getting snooty, you can take a 13.1 mile hike and shove it. A half marathon IS BIG. It’s LONG. It’s THIRTEEN POINT FREAKING ONE MILES — of RUNNING! I will remind you all that 2 years ago I could barely run ZERO POINT FIVE miles without wanting to die, so I am VERY proud of this accomplishment, and even though it didn’t go quite as I had planned, it couldn’t have been a more PERFECT day.
I started training for this run by starting Couch to 5K (for the second time) in January once I was cleared to run after giving birth via c-section to my daughter at the end of last year. I’m 37 with 3 kids, so easing back into a routine was a smart approach for me (and I can’t stress that enough for anyone at any age). My first goal this year was the King of the Hill 5K and I nailed it! The next goal was the Ford Island Bridge Run 10K which I ran at a sub 10 minute/mile pace – my best PR! I could not have been more pleased.
My husband had just gone out to sea when I did the Bridge Run…and soon my training schedule flew right out the window after him! The long runs got harder to do as more responsibility landed on my plate, then I was hardly running at all. Thankfully, I found (rather, a wonderful woman named Kate found ME) Stroller Warriors® here in Pearl Harbor (Stroller Warriors® is a free running club for military wives and their families with chapters in cities across the world. Stephanie Geraghty established the first chapter of Stroller Warriors at Camp Lejeune in January 2010.) THEY gave me the motivation to run through being tired, sad, and lonely. Soon after joining, I became one of the leaders of the club’s C25K program and that REALLY motivated me to show up and be accountable. STILL, I wasn’t getting ANY long runs in and I began to panic about this half marathon which was just a few weeks away.
I continued to work out at home with AdvoCare’s Can You 24 DVD and run with the Stroller Warriors® ladies. I even did a Turbo Fire workout with one of my favorite Stroller Warriors® friends, Adrienne! Then thankfully, another member, Nicole, gave me a brilliant strategy to run this half injury free and finish alive – run 1 mile, walk 1 minute, “stop” at every water station. I thought, okay, I can do that – I HAVE to do that at this point. I was still debating whether or not I should go through with the half, and right when I thought I might give up, another member of the club, Kelsey, contacted me and asked if I wanted to carpool to the race. Yet ANOTHER reason for me to remain accountable. The universe was speaking loud and clear, I thought – I HAD to do this run.
The day of the half arrived and Kelsey and her husband and daughter drove us to the race at 0430! Then, while standing in line for the restroom about 30 minutes before start time, I suddenly realized I FORGOT MY BIB. HOW DID I FORGET MY BIB?! I’m the kind of person who usually pins it to my clothes the night before, but I was so nervous about leaving my hubs alone with our babies (not a frequent occurrence as you might imagine) that I totally spaced out! Fortunately the amazing and kind organizers of the Tropical Triple Crown quickly got me a new number and I was good do go.
Then it was run time. I started out pacing myself with Kelsey. Somewhere in mile 2, however, we started going up the first elevation and my legs started to go (not sure why I have to run fast up hill, but I do and it feels good). I lost Kelsey in the crowd, but I still kept with Nicole’s advice – Run 1 mile, walk 1 minute, water. I really wanted to finish in 2:20-2:30. That was a REALISTIC goal given my lack of long runs, I thought.
Right around mile 3, the sun started to come up over Diamond Head. I enjoyed looking at the beautiful homes and the ocean as I passed them by. I began looking at the people around me – all going at a comfortable pace, all REALLY enjoying themselves…and so was I! Suddenly, my concerns about time went completely out the window and it began to sink in that I was really doing this, I loved what I was doing, and I was having a good time. Running. ME. Running!
As I passed each mile marker, I felt stronger and stronger. Once I passed the half way point (and took a necessary pit stop – did I mention I stopped at EVERY water table? There were 6! Awesome!) I was REALLY motivated. At Mile 11, it started to get really hot and the incline got intense, but I kept the feet moving like my husband always tells me to do. I texted my husband to say I was at Mile 12 because he and the kids were on their way to watch me finish. He’d spent an hour looking for parking and managed to get a spot right up front…about 10 minutes after I crossed the finish line! When they did get there, I was just so happy to see them all and happy I was finished, but my feet felt like they were going to fall off! We hung out for a few minutes then our kids got antsy, but thankfully I managed to catch up with Kelsey and her family before we left. SHE was such an inspiration to me, having already run a half and a full marathon this year (and she only started running THIS YEAR! I am not worthy!)
Looking back, the best part of finishing this first of what I’m sure will be many half marathons in my life, was feeling like I achieved something I NEVER thought I could. It was seeing how proud my husband was of me when I was done. It was realizing that running isn’t something I do, it’s now a part of who I AM. And it was recognizing that running has brought friends into my life who are genuine, supportive, AMAZING and wonderful. I am SO VERY THANKFUL for these running sisters of mine and for the amazing husband and partner I have to run with through this life.
Next BIG goal? The Honolulu Marathon in December! Many races to run in between and a long separation from my love coming up sooner than later. It will be challenging, but I am in it to win it. I hope you follow along! Congratulations to EVERY Hibiscus Half finisher! You are awesome!